During a recent event to discuss the July 1 switch from Universal Analytics to GA4, we discovered that only about 20% of people in attendance had their GA4 properties set up and ready to use. If you are like most of the people in that room (and many of the businesses we are helping), you need to start your conversion to GA4 right now! To make the change a little easier on you, here are our recommended steps now and in the coming weeks as you transition your digital marketing analytics to GA4.
What to do before the July 1 switch from UA to GA4
Things to do this week
Get basic tracking installed
Schedule a consultation call with Google
Set audiences up for Google Ads
Transfer your destination-based Goals using the setup assistant
Check on your 3rd party integrations
Things you can do later (but not too much later)
Update your reporting
Export 2 years of Universal Analytics data
Installing your tracking will ensure that you don’t lose sight of important metrics, especially those that are following leads as they progress through your sales process, or sales that require multiple steps or touch points to complete. This is also extremely important for tracking historical data in the future, particularly as you deal with transitioning to the new way GA4 reports on metrics that you may have been using in your reporting.
Talking to Google to get some help is always a good solution. Know that they will undoubtedly be fielding far more calls or requests for help once the switch occurs, so the sooner you can get an audience with a Google rep, the better. They can potentially help you understand the changes you’ll find in GA4, so come prepared with a list of questions.
Take advantage of the set-up assistant to transfer your destination-based Goals, or anything that has to do with a landing page or web property. Don’t forget to ensure all integrations with any 3rd party platforms, apps, or utilities are still functioning as they should.
If you have Google Ads running, you also need to set up the proper audiences in GA4 to ensure the right people continue to see your messaging. This will also become the basis for reporting on and tracking these initiatives.
GA4 migration tasks you can perform after July 1
Don’t forget to export two years worth of data, as Google will eventually remove access to that historical information. You also need to update your reporting, as you won’t have access to the same data points and views as you did under UA. You can still track and report the same or very similar types of information, but you’ll likely need to find some creative ways to arrive at those views. This doesn’t need to get done immediately, but the sooner the better.
This step is a little more complicated, and since it’s so important for accurate reporting, sharing information within your company, and future strategies, this might be a good time to get a little help from Google or consult a digital marketing agency that specializes in Analytics.
Use these GA4 tips and articles to help you get started
This quick overview covers some of the most important or relevant changes in terminology and data location. Use this information to continue to track the metrics that are most important to your business.
While GA4 can automatically create properties, it’s likely they won’t capture the valuable information you’re used to tracking in the same ways UA did. Creating a new GA4 property yourself only takes a few minutes, but the most important step is setting up the reporting to measure the goals that really matter to your bottom line. This will help prevent any gaps in data, which is especially important if it’s information you need to share with other stakeholders in your company.
Universal Analytics differs from GA4 in four major ways. You’ll see some major variances in how GA4 captures, processes, and visualizes your website’s data, so make sure you are tracking the same styles of conversions in your new metrics to follow any KPI targets you already have in place.
We’ve been working in GA4 for a while, and are happy to share our experiences to help you get started. Jack Boland, Senior Analytics Team Lead at Workshop Digital, put together this step-by-step guide to setting up custom events in Google Analytics 4 that includes your go-to resources from Universal Analytics in the new GA4 interface, and how to use Google Tag Manager to set up custom events.
To make sure you’re pulling in important metrics like click data or cost data, or importing your conversion data from Google Analytics back into Google Ads for ad optimization, you’ll need to connect your Google Ads account to GA4.
The path exploration report has become one of our favorite features of GA4. It’s a valuable report that can show you how customers interact with your website, how (or if) people are moving through the sales funnel, and where and how they convert.
Knowing what data points you need from GA4, as well as what you would like to have, will allow you to look at historical trends and keep tracking important metrics until you have enough GA4 data to carry you forward. Don’t forget to save your historical data before Google removes it next year.
You can start making changes to your website to ensure it’s properly set up to accurately record Events. Start by analyzing your existing user data to understand how people are currently using your website. You can then map the on-site digital experience to your analytics structure for a clearer view of where and how to improve the user experience, and your results.
If you still have questions about GA4, or just need to talk through your current approach to make sure you haven’t missed anything important, contact us today. We can help you find a solution that will give you added confidence in your digital marketing program.